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7 Great Loop Walks in Clare

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After being confined to the couch for the last few months, ramblers will be keen to get out and explore new territory. Clare's natural beauty has plenty to offer, including deserted beaches, quaint villages and spectacular cliffs and seascapes. 

It’s easy to see why the county is a must-visit for walkers — and the perfect spot to reconnect with friends. 
Whether it’s a short hike with the family or a day-long challenge you’re after, here are seven great loop walks in Clare to get you started.

We’ve plotted these walks from the tip of Loop Head Peninsula, north along the coast to Ballyvaughan and inland to Dromore. So, you could easily extend your walking trip to take in more of this magical county.

  • Loop Head cliff view
  • A majestic sunset at Fanore Beach
  • The unique Burren landscape

1. Loop Head Walk

Ease yourself in gently with one of Ireland’s most westerly and stunning trails on one of the country’s most dramatic headlands. The 2km trek from Loop Head car park takes you round the moors and along the cliffs. Keep to the west of the impressive lighthouse and pass the World War II lookout posts and on towards the water before an energetic climb rewards you with incredible views.
The longer Kilbaha Loop Walk is a bit more challenging, taking four to five hours to hike its 15km trail. But it’s totally worth the effort. From the lighthouse you’ll trek along the peninsula’s breathtaking southern coastline to Kilbaha, before returning along the sea cliffs with cinematic views of Kilbaha Bay. Along the way you will pass countless natural wonders and historic treasures from Diarmuid and Gráinne’s Rock, to the World War II E-I-R-E sign.  

2. Doonbeg Loop

From Loop Head a scenic 40-minute coastal drive takes you to Doonbeg, reputedly the longest village in Ireland with its famous Whitestrand beach, and known for surfing swimming and fishing. The well-marked Doonbeg Loop starts not too far from Doonbeg Castle and is an easy 8km trek on minor roadways and bog tracks with views of Doughmore Bay and Mutton Island.

3. Caher Valley Looped Walk

It’s well worth taking the coast road from Lahinch through Liscannor and Doolin to reach Fanore and the trailhead of the Caher Valley Looped Walk. This 14km moderate walk takes three and a half hours from the car park at the beautiful sandy beach in Fanore village. Amble along the Caher River, one of the only rivers in the Burren, and climb onto the shoulder of Slieve Elva before a 3km descent, with wonderful views of the ocean and the Aran Islands in the distance.

4. Black Head Loop

Experienced walkers won’t easily forget the views and natural wonders on the Black Head Looped Walk, a more challenging hike from Fanore Beach. You’ll need seven hours to complete the 26km trek along an impressive mix of Burren hill and coast, following laneways, tracks and mountain paths.
Along the way you’ll explore the incomparable Burren landscape through the Caher Valley and parts of Gleninagh Mountain. Discover the ruins of the Cathair Aird Rois ring fort and drink in incredible vistas of Galway Bay and the Aran Islands.

5. Ballyvaughan Wood Loop

After you arrive back to Fanore Beach it’s 20-minutes to Ballyvaughan along the coast road fringed by drystone walls with the expanse of sea beyond. The Ballyvaughan Wood Loop starts at the seafront and takes you on a journey through country roads and farmland.
For the perfect stop along the route visit the famous Ailwee Caves, the best known of thousands of caves under the Burren. Take your time and watch out for rough terrain in places and you should be back in Ballyvaughan in two and a half hours.

Ballyvaughan village

6. Templecronan Loop

Heading inland from Ballyvaughan you’ll reach the start of the Templecronan Loop Walk in 20 minutes. This relatively easy 5km walk starts at Cassidy’s Pub in the village (there’s a longer 9km Carran Loop from here too but you’d be best to take a map for that one).
This part of Clare promises wonderful views of the Burren’s lunar landscape and one of the largest seasonal lakes (or turloughs) in Ireland. You’ll pass the ruin of the 12th century Templecronan Church with its carved stone heads, before returning towards the turlough and the trail head at Carran an hour and a half later. 

The lunar landscape of the Burren, set against water and clouds

7. Dromore Wood Loop

Just 25 minutes on from Carran towards Ennis you’ll reach the magnificent Dromore Woodland Nature Reserve with its abundance of diverse flora and fauna. Follow the signpost in the village of Ruan, 2km to the carpark and you’ll find the trailhead for the Dromore Wood Loop, a moderate two hour 6km circular trail marked with purple arrows. Watch out for views of Dromore Lake, Lough Garr and the 17th century O’Brien Castle as you ramble through the majestic forest before arriving back near the visitor centre.
The Donore Wood Loop is just one of seven trails of varying lengths marked out in the woods, including the easy Rabbit Island loop which will take 30 minutes.

Spend More Time in Clare

When you’ve hung up your walking boots for the day there’s plenty more reasons to extend your stay: here are ten things you can do in Clare for starters. But wherever you plan to explore, be sure to contact individual attractions and businesses to confirm they're welcoming visitors again. 

Because our changed world means a new focus on public protection, social distancing and safe travel measures will be essential everywhere — as explained in the new nationwide COVID-19 Safety Charter.

After you make your escape in Clare, it's time to start thinking about what you'll discover next on the Wild Atlantic Way. Want to go further afield? Find out more about how to make a break for other regions of our amazing island...

  • Surfing at Lahinch
  • Sundown in Clare
  • Watching the waves


It's finally time to pack your bags and make your escape

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